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About idioms ... (not necessarily only of Japan)

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About idioms ... (not necessarily only of Japan)

Postby astaroth » Tue 09.01.2009 9:54 am

This would have been a total hijack of this ... I'm copying the post and making a new thread ...

furrykef wrote:Yeah, it's surprising what idioms European languages share sometimes.

My guess is that it is so because of sharing some common Literature. The Latin and Greek roots are of course common, but then so is Shakespeare and Dante (to some degree). After all Europe is a pretty small continent. Actually, it's not even a continent strictly speaking.
furrykef wrote:For instance, you can translate "I'm going to eat it" word for word into Spanish, as long as you shift the word "it" before the verb:

Not quite sure what you mean here. I don't know any Spanish, and I thought I knew English ... :oops:
Do you mean "to be going to do something" as in "to be about to do something"?

In Italian it's grammatically correct to literally translate the expression but saying "to go to do" (andare a fare) always implies the motion and never the "to be about to".

By the way, about idioms. In Italy idioms are usually regional (not surprising considering Italian history): once I was talking with a friend who is from the south and he wasn't understanding idioms like "ogni due per tre" (every two times three -- meaning: almost always) and "hanno aperto le gabbie" (they opened the cages -- meaning: it's a mayhem). I always thought those idioms were Italian and not Milanese ...

furrykef wrote:Then there are lots of other things that are harder to notice. For instance, bienvenido (and the Italian form "benvenuto", etc.) means "welcome", right? But if you look closely, you'll also see that it's formed from "bien" (well) and "come" (venido). Well come = welcome. :) In fact, even Japanese shares this idiom with "yoku irasshaimashita", since "irassharu" is just the honorific form of "kuru".

Well not that there are many ways to say "you are welcome" :)
but thinking of Japanese ... what about ようこそ, as far as I know it doesn't come from よくいらっしゃいました or similar. But I might be very wrong.

Something that always struck me is the words for mam and dad, as in almost all the languages they share the same phonemes (ma or pa or ba ...)
Though it's not very surprising since those phonemes are the ones children utter first. This makes me thinks about Japanese: はは and ちち are used when talking with out-circle people, and お母さん and お父さん when talking directly to one's parent. Is it the same with babies? That is those (おかあさん and おとうさん) are the words used by toddlers when they first learn to speak when addressing their parents? (I'm not really asking about さん instead of ちゃん but to me はは and ちち would be easier to pronounce for little babies than おかあさん or おとうさん ...)
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Re: About idioms ... (not necessarily only of Japan)

Postby furrykef » Tue 09.01.2009 10:04 am

astaroth wrote:Not quite sure what you mean here. I don't know any Spanish, and I thought I knew English ... :oops:
Do you mean "to be going to do something" as in "to be about to do something"?

In Italian it's grammatically correct to literally translate the expression but saying "to go to do" (andare a fare) always implies the motion and never the "to be about to".


I think it's closer to "I will do something" than "I am about to do something", but yes. :) This is one area where Spanish and Italian grammar differ. In fact, you can say something like "Voy a ir a la tienda" -- "I'm going to go to the store" -- while I imagine the Italian equivalent "Vado a andare al negozio" would sound very strange!

Generally, "Voy a hacer algo" ("I'm going to do something") is much more common than "Haré algo" ("I will do something"; i.e., using the future tense). I imagine formal writing does use the future tense, though, or at least it uses it much more often.

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Re: About idioms ... (not necessarily only of Japan)

Postby astaroth » Tue 09.01.2009 10:12 am

furrykef wrote:I think it's closer to "I will do something" than "I am about to do something", but yes. :) This is one area where Spanish and Italian grammar differ. In fact, you can say something like "Voy a ir a la tienda" -- "I'm going to go to the store" -- while I imagine the Italian equivalent "Vado a andare al negozio" would sound very strange!

Indeed, most of the hard time Italian (or Spanish) speakers have when speaking/learning Spanish (or Italian) is to avoid idioms since they usually, as in this case, mean something rather different.

As far as I understand the idiom in English, the difference between "I'm going to do" and "I will do" is that the latter may imply a possibility, whilst the former implies less possibility and more "determination".
In that sense, in Italian we would use the present tense when what is going to happen is going to happen.
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Re: About idioms ... (not necessarily only of Japan)

Postby mbridge » Tue 09.01.2009 12:22 pm

Aww pooh, I thought this thread was about idioms, but it's more on phonetics and linguistics ...

If you want the latin/greek of Japanese, look at Chinese.
Speaking of 'welcome", I know the Korean one (어서오세요 hurry come) is most likely derived from Chinese (快来:kuai lai / hurry come), as is our way of asking basic questions (You are who? instead of Who are you?)..... but when I think of idioms, I think of stuff like 雲をつかむように (like catching clouds / something impossible / when pigs fly...)
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Re: About idioms ... (not necessarily only of Japan)

Postby AJBryant » Tue 09.01.2009 12:38 pm

Idiom can be fun -- and it can be really frustrating if one lacks the cultural or linguistic familiarity to understand what is being said.

Most Americans will have no idea what is meant by "there's a bit of Barney round the pub" unless they lived in England or watch a *lot* of British TV.

We in the West do share an amount of culture, though (at least the older stuff) so most Western lingos have an understanding of what is meant by "sour grapes" (for example) though the languages have their own translations of Aesop's morals. Turn it into Japanese, however, and you require a whole sentence or more to explain that you aren't talking about, literally, bitter proto-raisins. Chinese and Japanese have their famous four-character phrases, which function on exactly the same level; they know the context of the phrase "crouching tiger, hidden dragon", but for us, it's just four words making up two random verb phrases and a cool movie.

astaroth wrote:but thinking of Japanese ... what about ようこそ, as far as I know it doesn't come from よくいらっしゃいました or similar. But I might be very wrong.


The よう is, in fact, a variant of よく, reflecting a sound-change called onbin and is evidenced in ようやった=よくできました/よいことをしまた。Not looking it up now (I don't have the time) but I wouldn't be surprised if the こ in こそ is related somehow to the こそあど words.

This makes me thinks about Japanese: はは and ちち are used when talking with out-circle people, and お母さん and お父さん when talking directly to one's parent. Is it the same with babies? That is those (おかあさん and おとうさん) are the words used by toddlers when they first learn to speak when addressing their parents? (I'm not really asking about さん instead of ちゃん but to me はは and ちち would be easier to pronounce for little babies than おかあさん or おとうさん ...)


Childish terms for "mommy" and "daddy" in Japanese are typically かか and とと.
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Re: About idioms ... (not necessarily only of Japan)

Postby becki_kanou » Tue 09.01.2009 12:55 pm

AJBryant wrote:Childish terms for "mommy" and "daddy" in Japanese are typically かか and とと.

Those terms are awfully old-fashioned though. These days little kids say ママ and パパ or 父ちゃん and 母ちゃん .
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Re: About idioms ... (not necessarily only of Japan)

Postby Mike Cash » Tue 09.01.2009 1:32 pm

AJBryant wrote:Idiom can be fun -- and it can be really frustrating if one lacks the cultural or linguistic familiarity to understand what is being said.

Most Americans will have no idea what is meant by "there's a bit of Barney round the pub" unless they lived in England or watch a *lot* of British TV.


Once upon a time I watched a Japanese subtitled version of "Anne of Green Gables". There was a scene with two old women talking about how very hard Anne was working. One of the women said, "That child's going to kill herself."......which the translator rendered as 「あの子は自殺する」. I've always thought it a nice illustration how one can be absolutely right and absolutely wrong at the same time.
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Re: About idioms ... (not necessarily only of Japan)

Postby AJBryant » Tue 09.01.2009 4:17 pm

becki_kanou wrote:
AJBryant wrote:Childish terms for "mommy" and "daddy" in Japanese are typically かか and とと.

Those terms are awfully old-fashioned though. These days little kids say ママ and パパ or 父ちゃん and 母ちゃん .


That's true, but I think that's due to foreign influence -- Mom and Dad are teaching the kids those terms. I was talking about what the traditional Japanese terms were (or had been).

And, Mike -- what do you say to a thread on subtitle horror stories we've encountered? I remember regularly either laughing or shaking my head in disbelief at some of the boners the subtitlers pulled.
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Re: About idioms ... (not necessarily only of Japan)

Postby furrykef » Tue 09.01.2009 4:46 pm

AJBryant wrote:And, Mike -- what do you say to a thread on subtitle horror stories we've encountered? I remember regularly either laughing or shaking my head in disbelief at some of the boners the subtitlers pulled.


Sounds good to me at any rate. I even have a couple myself, although they weren't professional subtitles (and they were into Spanish rather than to/from Japanese). In fact, the only thing that comes to mind right now is AVGN quotes, one of which is probably too vulgar for this forum. :lol:

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Re: About idioms ... (not necessarily only of Japan)

Postby Harisenbon » Tue 09.01.2009 7:36 pm

AJBryant wrote:And, Mike -- what do you say to a thread on subtitle horror stories we've encountered? I remember regularly either laughing or shaking my head in disbelief at some of the boners the subtitlers pulled.


Were you the one I was talking to years ago about a subtitler who translated かか様 as "Master Kaka" ;)
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Re: About idioms ... (not necessarily only of Japan)

Postby furrykef » Tue 09.01.2009 7:40 pm

かか様って?
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Re: About idioms ... (not necessarily only of Japan)

Postby AJBryant » Tue 09.01.2009 9:28 pm

Harisenbon wrote:
AJBryant wrote:And, Mike -- what do you say to a thread on subtitle horror stories we've encountered? I remember regularly either laughing or shaking my head in disbelief at some of the boners the subtitlers pulled.


Were you the one I was talking to years ago about a subtitler who translated かか様 as "Master Kaka" ;)


Nope, but I love it. :)

furrykef wrote:かか様って?


"Mother."
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Re: About idioms ... (not necessarily only of Japan)

Postby chikara » Thu 09.03.2009 11:47 pm

astaroth wrote:.....
furrykef wrote:For instance, you can translate "I'm going to eat it" word for word into Spanish, as long as you shift the word "it" before the verb:

Not quite sure what you mean here. I don't know any Spanish, and I thought I knew English ... :oops:
Do you mean "to be going to do something" as in "to be about to do something"? ......

Don't feel bad astaroth-san. I am a native English speaker and I had to take a guess at what "I'm going to eat it" meant. :)

AJBryant wrote:Idiom can be fun -- and it can be really frustrating if one lacks the cultural or linguistic familiarity to understand what is being said.

Most Americans will have no idea what is meant by "there's a bit of Barney round the pub" unless they lived in England or watch a *lot* of British TV. ....

Now that one I understand. It would be the same as a "donnybrook round the local".

AJBryant wrote:..... Childish terms for "mommy" and "daddy" in Japanese are typically かか and とと.

If a young child here says かか they probably want their mummy ;)
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Re: About idioms ... (not necessarily only of Japan)

Postby tōkai devotee » Fri 09.04.2009 12:29 am

chikara wrote:If a young child here says かか they probably want their mummy ;)



- or, they might be imitating a magpie or a kookaburra! :D
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Re: About idioms ... (not necessarily only of Japan)

Postby chikara » Fri 09.04.2009 4:14 am

tokai devotee wrote:
chikara wrote:If a young child here says かか they probably want their mummy ;)



- or, they might be imitating a magpie or a kookaburra! :D

It does sound like the start of a kookaburra's call.
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